Achieving good diabetes management requires teamwork. You can try to do it alone but everyone with a chronic disease needs help. That’s why working with a team of healthcare professionals skilled in diabetes care, can mean the difference between long-term good health or suffering from long-term complications like kidney disease, blindness, heart failure, or nerve damage.
Team healthcare efforts simply work. Whether you’re recently diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for years, working with your diabetes healthcare team, just makes sense. Your overall health will significantly improve and thrive resulting in reduced medical care costs due to fewer hospitalizations, medications, and doctor visits. Diabetes does not have to stop you from enjoying everything life has to offer when you practice lifestyle habits helping you feel your best.
Who are these health professionals you need on your diabetes care team? It’s important to know the key players you’ll need to manage your diabetes. But, before we meet this team, who would you guess is the most important person on your healthcare team? You! You are in charge of your diabetes and you call the shots. You’re responsible for updating your team, keeping appointments, asking questions, and staying on top of necessary screening tests. And when you have the right people assembled on your healthcare team for your diabetes, they will help you stay on top of everything you need to know.
Here’s a look at the top health professionals guiding you on your health journey:
- Primary care provider (PCP): Your PCP maybe your family doctor, an internist, a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant. Your PCP may diagnosis you, coordinate your care and healthcare team and recommend diabetes specialists.
- Endocrinologist: This doctor specializes in treating diseases of the endocrine system, such as diabetes and thyroid problems. You will have likely been referred to an endocrinologist by your PCP, particularly when your blood sugar is out of control. Endocrinologists will review your medications, make suggestions of using medical technologies like an insulin pump or a continuous glucose monitor for better blood sugar control.
- Ophthalmologist: A leading cause of blindness in the United States is due to out-of-control blood glucose. This medical doctor monitors your eye health looking for any damage high blood glucose levels may have caused to your retina and vision. The American Diabetes Association advises people with diabetes to see an ophthalmologist at least once a year for a comprehensive eye exam.
- Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES): This is a healthcare professional which may be a registered nurse, registered dietitian, or pharmacist who is specially trained to counsel and educate people with diabetes. They work with you by setting achievable behavioral goals and address your concerns and challenges.
- Nurse/Nurse Practitioner (NP)/Physician Assistant (PA): A nurse, NP or PA administers routine care and may serve as your advocate and educator.
- Podiatrist: This doctor can check your feet for nerve damage or wounds. Foot care is absolutely crucial. It’s important to check your feet (tops and bottoms) for any potentially serious problems such as corns, calluses, blisters, reddened skin, or any puncture wounds.
- Pharmacist: A healthcare professional who can answer questions about your medications, help you find affordable medicine options, and send you to refill reminders.